Illinois-Chicago's defense -- the strength that had the Flames starting 9-1 -- has suddenly left it. The Flames give up a ridiculous 1.21 points per possession against Miami in their second straight defeat
Illinois-Chicago had been winning with strong defense. The Flames were among the nation's leaders in defensive efficiency.
Something has changed though, and it isn't based on the quality of the competition that UIC has been seeing. The Flames lost 82-70 to Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, its second-straight loss. They lost Tuesday to Western Illinois.
What is clear is that the defense isn't clicking the way it had over the early part of the season when the Flames were holding teams under a point per possession. Even in the early season loss to New Mexico, UIC only gave up 1.0 point per possession.
But against the Leathernecks, it edged up to 1.14 points. Saturday was even worse against Miami, at 1.21 points.
Something is rotten. The RedHawks shot an amazing 56.6 percent from the floor and made 10 of 19 3-pointers in the win. UIC forced turnovers on 20.5 percent of its defensive possessions and it still wasn't enough to slow down Miami.
Will Sullivan led the RedHawks with 16 points on a perfect shooting night.
For the Flames, the shooting was still there. They shot 47.2 percent from the floor and missed just a single free throw. But they also committed 19 turnovers. The defensive woes didn't help.
Gary Talton was 6-for-14 for 15 points, and Daniel Barnes added 14 for the Flames, now 9-3 for the year.